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Can blood tests for pot-related DUI be refused in South Carolina?

Implied consent laws are a common point of discussion on this blog, and for good reason. Without an understanding of what this statute means, drivers may unknowingly create serious legal trouble for themselves.

As we pointed out in a previous blog post, motorists automatically consent to a breath test for alcohol intoxication by operating a vehicle on South Carolina roads. Failure to comply with this law can result in license suspension and other legal penalties.

At the same time, the application of implied consent laws to driving under the influence of marijuana -- or other drugs -- cases may not be quite as clear. As such, this may be worth a brief exploration.

Across the country, there is a serious discussion about the status of marijuana laws. Two states have legalized recreational marijuana use and many more allow medical marijuana use, but South Carolina doesn't fit into these categories at this time. However, the issue of DUI charges for marijuana use remains relevant to residents of the state. As a recent report from National Public Radio points out, there is no Breathalyzer-style test for marijuana, which creates a legal conundrum.

In other words, if an officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of marijuana, there is no breath test to offer. As such, blood samples may have to be taken. According to South Carolina's implied consent laws, drivers consent to "breath, blood or urine" tests in cases of suspected DUI. As such, a person could be compelled to submit a blood sample.

This is a particularly complicated legal issue knowing that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement officials must seek a warrant in order to conduct a blood test in drunk driving cases, an issue we have also covered in an earlier blog post. Given the relatively recent timing of this decision and how it applies throughout the country, the necessity of warrants in instances of DUI for drug use may not be so clear cut.

More than anything, people should understand that DUI case may be more complex than it appears. This is why it can be helpful to seek out the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney for specific advice as it relates to an individual case.

Source: WestLaw, SC Code 1976 § 6-5-2950

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